What is BLOCS?
BLOCS (Building Louisville’s Out-of-School Time Coordinated System) is a partnership of Louisville, Kentucky education, government and community impact organizations that strive to improve opportunities for our youth. We’re also instrumental in:
- Setting quality standards for out-of-school time programs
- Inciting participation by out-of-school time program providers
- Motivating out-of-school time program providers strive for excellence
The Value of Out-of-School Time
The idea that learning and enrichment shouldn’t end with the school bell isn’t new. The out-of-school time learning movement grew rapidly in the early part of the 20th century with the Progressive Era, when settlement houses and children’s clubs offered young people a place to learn language, culture and explore other interests.Today, after-school programs have attracted a renewed interest. More than 500 municipal leaders surveyed by the National League of Cities ranked after-school programs among the most pressing needs for children in their communities.
But with this interest has come the challenge of lifting the quality of these programs and expanding their availability. As many as 15 million young people in the United States today are not participating. For many of them, the time after school, on weekends and over vacations signals boredom and risk. Children in lower-income families in particular are far less likely than their more affluent peers to have access to, or participate in, out-of-school offerings. That means they miss out on activities that may cultivate talent, lift self-confidence, improve social skills, increase engagement with school, and decrease the likelihood of risky or self-destructive behavior. (Source: “A Place to Grow & Learn”; The Wallace Foundation)
BLOCS’ Out-of-School Time Focus Areas
In 2014, the city of Louisville launched the life-long learning initiative, “Cradle to Career,” to drive educational attainment and, subsequently, economic growth in our community. Key pillars in this initiative are Early Childhood Care and Educations Readiness, Kindergarten through Grade 12 Success, and High School to Postsecondary Transition and Completion.
Out-of-school time plays a key role throughout each of these pillars. It enhances learning, social development, and the ability to meet kids where they are to better engage them. That’s why BLOCS focuses on how:
- Out-of-school time helps prepare youth for college: High schools are increasingly focused on ramping up student performance in basic academic skills. Many schools are not able, however, to provide opportunities during the school day for all students to develop vital 21st century skills – such as critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creativity, adaptability, imagination, and entrepreneurism.
- Out-of-school time helps social and emotional learning: Research by the Collaborative for Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) indicates that skills such as self-management, self-awareness, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making may be better predictors of life trajectory than standard academic measures.
- Out-of-school time is the place to get each child what they need, when they need it: A key component of a quality out-of-school program is relationships with adults. When young children receive encouragement and feel supported by adults they form a sense of belonging and are more likely to stay engaged.